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Russian economic crisis hits Phuket, Pattaya

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Russian economic crisis hits Phuket, Pattaya | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: Russia’s economic crisis is expected to squeeze the hotel and tourism business in Thailand – especially in Pattaya and Phuket – through the current high season and first quarter of next year.

“Pattaya has been like a second home for Russian tourists and long-stay guests for many years. They have been contributing huge income to the country’s economy. But average hotel occupancy in the seaside resort [town] today is falling to 70 per cent from more than 90 per cent last year,” Supawan Tanomkieatipume, vice president for marketing at the Thai Hotels Association (THA), said last week.

Pattaya, which is said to be the most popular destination for Russians, has been suffering from a drop-off in arrivals since early this year due to the Russia’s economic problems and the recent plunge in the value of the ruble.

Pattaya is expected to continue feeling the pinch at least until the end of March.

Two years ago, Russian visitors began to flock to Phuket as their new destination, but the island is experiencing a similar slump this year.

Russian tourists reached 1.4 million from January-November. However, December looms as a tragedy as hotel operators in Pattaya have reported that Russian guests are down 50 per cent from last year.

Thailand welcomed 1.7 million Russians last year. For years, the Russian market has ranked as the third largest source of tourists after China and Malaysia.

During the first 11 months, the Association of Thai Travel Agents reported that Russia accounted for the second biggest source after China, with some 427,342 visitors. However, that was a 26-per-cent decrease from 585,022 at the same time last year.

Juthaporn Rerngron-asa, deputy governor for marketing for Europe, Africa and the Middle East at the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), said that the economic problems in Russia would continue to hinder arrivals through this year’s peak season.

The TAT also predicts that the Japanese market will continue to slow due to economy instability. The agency said that it would revise its marketing plans by initiating urgent efforts to boost visitors from other short-haul markets such as China and Asean countries to substitute for the Russians.

The Mr Suwapan said that the MICE – meeting, incentive, convention and exhibition – business mostly from Western markets would not recover by the end of next quarter as many companies still fear unrest under military rule.

The THA also reported that average hotel occupancy during the year-end period at major destinations like Bangkok, Phuket, Hua Hin, Samui and Chiang Mai is running at 80 per cent, which is better than last year, but not as good as expected. However, business in second-tier cities such as Chiang Rai, Kanchanaburi and Krabi had improved thanks to more bookings from local travellers.

— The Nation

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Pattaya

City officials plan to demolish abandoned Pattaya condo project

Maya Taylor

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City officials plan to demolish abandoned Pattaya condo project | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Sophon Cable TV / The Pattaya News

After years of talks, threats, and complaints, the abandoned Waterfront condo development at Pattaya’s Bali Hai pier looks set to be demolished. The Waterfront Suites and Residence is a half-finished condo project that was stalled in 2014 after safety inspectors discovered that the building’s fire escapes and elevator systems designs varied from the already approved construction designs. Read an earlier story about the eyesore HERE.

Pattaya’s mayor, Sonthaya Khunplume, says officials plan to tear down what many have condemned as an eyesore, “as soon as possible” – and charge the owners for it. According to a Pattaya News report, the date of the demolition, along with the name of the company being hired to carry out the work, have not yet been confirmed.

The controversy surrounding the development dates back to 2014, when construction was halted following multiple legal threats and complaints from local residents. The Israeli-owned development company, Bali Hai, are accused of violating building regulations, by building a structure that exceeds the legal height limit, as well as restrictions on proximity to the beach. Local residents have also complained that the development obstructs the panoramic vista of the bay from Pattaya Hill, and the view of the memorial to the renowned Admiral Abhakara Kiartivongse, Prince of Chumphon.

For their part, the developers insist they have complied with all regulations and had the necessary paperwork and permits for the project. It seems however, that Pattaya officials have had enough, and, ignoring the developer’s claims of bankruptcy, they say the whole Waterfront saga must end. They say the demolition will not affect lawsuits being brought by those who paid for condo units that never materialised, insisting that court hearings can still go ahead, regardless of the condition of the building.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

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Pattaya

Pandemic has washed away Pattaya’s “soapy” massage parlours

The Thaiger

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Pandemic has washed away Pattaya’s “soapy” massage parlours | The Thaiger

While the Covid pandemic has hit Thailand’s businesses hard, it has also washed away its not-so-legal soapy massage parlours after tourism has dried up its clientele. Such places, known as glorified brothels, have left many masseuses out of work as boards have barricaded the once booming establishments.

Soapy Massage (àap-òp-nûat, อาบอบนวด, literally bath, steam, massage)…
These are the bigger massage parlours where girls are presented in the fishbowl and you get the full program (including sex) for a fixed price, depending on the girl starting from 1,500 and up to 5,000 Baht.

Only a few of the soapy services have survived the pandemic in Pattaya, with Honey Massage Parlour being one of them, according to The Pattaya Mail. After adjusting to the new requirements for social distancing, the business has re-opened on November 19. However, its largest shop has closed, once known as Honey 1 on Soi Honey, or Soi 11, the windows are dark and barricaded. Honey Inn is also up for sale.

25 year old masseuse Maywadee, says she used to work in such parlours where she would get a cut of the 1,500 to 2,500 baht fee. She says she used to see up to 7 clients a day, but now that number has been cut in half as Chinese and Japanese tourists, who were her largest group of customers have dwindled. Now, she is thinking about heading back to her home city of Chiang Mai, to sell handicrafts, as her Pattaya income has dried up.

Such parlours feature masseuses that are usually not native to the area, as many come from lower socio-economic areas such as Thailands northeastern provinces, otherwise known as Isaan. Many make the trip to tourist-driven cities like Pattaya, Koh Samui, Bangkok and others, in an attempt to make a higher salary than they would if they were back in Isaan.

SOURCE: The Pattaya Mail

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Tourism

Phuket sees 300 million baht boost over long holiday weekend

The Thaiger

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Phuket sees 300 million baht boost over long holiday weekend | The Thaiger

The Tourism Authority of Thailand says that Phuket has received a much-needed 300 million baht boost over the 4 day long weekend with around 54,000 tourists flocking to the island from last Thursday through to yesterday.

Phuket Office Director Nanthasiri Ronnasiri, reports that the average expenditure per visitor was about 5,500 baht, which was higher than the average spend for a Thai tourist to Phuket 2 years ago. She also noted that random checks on hotels showed that occupancy rates climbed to about 35%, with most guests staying 2 nights. But most of Phuket’s hotels remain closed.

Nanthasiri also says that many of the tourists concentrated themselves in the Phuket Old Town area, especially around Thalang Road, Phang Nga Road, and Dibuk Road in order to enjoy at the Sino-Portuguese shophouse architecture and historical locations. In fact much of Phuket Town, including its many markets and alley eateries, were doing roaring business, The Thaiger can vouch for the heavy traffic, on the roads and footpaths, over the past 4 days.

“This special holiday made Phuket tourism livelier, even though it was not as same as the situation before the Covid-19 pandemic.”

In fact, despite the welcome surge of visitors, it was still a long, long way from its previous tourist levels with much of the west coast, which has largely catered for the international tourist traffic, was still very quiet in places like Patong, Kata and Karon.

Phuket wasnt the only destination that has profited off of the long weekend as Chiang Mai saw droves of Thai tourists visiting its Royal Park Rajapruek as well as the northern city’s other nearby national parks and tourist areas. Visitors came from all over to see the blossoming of flowers in a beautiful display at the park as well as enjoying the air-purifying flowers as they relaxed. Tourists were able to rent a bicycle for 60 baht if they wanted to exercise while taking in the scenery and could also pay a visit to the orchid greenhouse, which hosts a variety of orchids in bloom. TripAdvisor recommends to set aside 2 hours to visit the park.

Next holiday weekend, on November 27 and 28, Pattaya is expected to get a tourism boost as its annual fireworks festivalis set to bring in travellers who have taken advantage of package deals offered by some beachside hotels. Such packages were offered for advance bookings, where holidaymakers could view the firework shows on the rooftops of their hotels. The firework displays are said to be long with breaks of entertainment-packed shows, featuring live music and student bands amongst others.

Phuket sees 300 million baht boost over long holiday weekend | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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